Sunday, May 14, 2017

How To Say "Merci" To Mom

Whether you’re in France or the U.S., it’s that time of year again to give thanks to the mom of your life. Over 100 years into the holiday, is it time to think more universally about what it is to be a mother?

Mother’s Day is celebrated today in the U.S. and in most countries of the world. In France, where it’s known as fête des mères, it’s the last Sunday of the month.

The founder of Mother’s Day in the U.S. would be upset with the French version, which is Mothers’ Day in translation. (If you missed the difference, one is a singular “mother” with an apostrophe “s” and the other is a plural “mothers” with an apostrophe. End of grammar lesson!) That’s because Anna Jarvis, who started the commemoration in 1908, wanted us to celebrate our personal “mother,” not “mothers” or motherhood in general.

A typical pasta necklace.
Ms. Jarvis came to hate the commercialism of the day. Instead of buying flowers or presents, in her view people should honor their mothers with a handwritten letter. I personally like to be taken out to dinner, but I’m open to cleaning, laundry, and window-washing too!

In France, according to French blogger Clotilde Dusoulier, “children usually craft some kind of project at school for their maman — most iconically, un collier de pâtes, a necklace made of dried pasta — and graduate to buying her flowers, chocolates, or beauty products when they are older.” Hmm. Somehow my teenage daughter hasn’t yet graduated out of the dried pasta stage.

Sorry Ms. Jarvis, I see nothing wrong about using the holiday to reflect on what motherhood means in this day and age.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today is running a story about Christie Pham, who lost her mom at 17, and now commemorates Mother’s Day by performing random acts of kindness.

Source: Pinterest.
In “The Birth of The Mother,” The New York Times today published an article by Dr. Alexandra Sacks saying that the becoming a mother in medical terms is largely unexplored territory, and argues for greater understanding of post-partum depression, and other psychological issues that grip women.

That’s not to deflate the role of fathers or grandparents, or aunt and uncles—teachers too--who may not have children but devote countless hours to child care. Now that’s the way to build a “maternal" instinct. Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

Believe it or not, it’s become trendy to affectionately tag these people as “moms” on social media. If a handwritten note is not going to happen, why not log on and reach out each #mom or #mere in your life to say thank you.
Rose Marie Burke, an editor and journalist, writes a blog about her personal insights into life in Paris. After many years in the City of Light, she still calls her native Pittsburgh "home." Want to follow this blog? Enter your email address into the “Follow me” box. Or find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.